Saturday, September 7, 2013

Halls of Flesh-Shaping: A Restospective

Throne of Thunder Part 3: Halls of Flesh-Shaping

This wing of the Throne of Thunder tore at my heart.  A thrown away disobedient pet, a flawed experiment tossed aside for a more perfect creation, and a giant blob of....what exactly was that stuff?  Often, after running through a raid again and again, I forget what it is that is in the flavor dialogue and text.  Primordius' screams of agony rip through me every time I'm there.  So much pain.  This wing paints such a vile picture of the Thunder King, in his desperate grasp for absolute power was willing to cross any barrier of morality or possibility to be the penultimate ruler.

Stories beside, I can say with confidence that of the four wings in the ToT, the Halls of Flesh-Shaping was my favorite.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Dirty Little Secrets

Come on, admit it.  You have them.  Who doesn't?

Are you a double agent PvP'er who slinks around one capital city, waiting to hear of a raid on the others and hop over to the other side to get the drop on them?  Are you an altaholic of the highest order, with a max level toon in each class and profession?  Are you a gold goblin who loves raking your competition across the coals?  You can tell me, I won't judge you.

I have a whole closet just stuffed with skeletons screaming to come out.  Remember the Poe story of the Telltale Heart? Yeah, that's my closet.  So here I am, bearing my dirty little secrets to you.  Be warned, I will be using amazing exaggerations, gross generalizations and overstatements throughout sharing these with you. 


Questing

Every healer knows the “joy” of questing.  Whether to level up or to complete dailies for reputation, most of us have to do it at one point or another.  Back in the day, before the introduction of dual specs, we had the choice of either (painfully) levelling as a healer or paying the (somewhat steep...especially for your first toon) price to continuously respec between questing and dungeon runs. These days questing is a lot easier on healers, with dual specs coming so inexpensively and the advent of LFG.  My dirty little secret about questing is even with the fact that I have an offspec, I'm abysmally bad on it. When I have to quest, I force my darling warrior husband to help me.  I admit I am not above using my feminine charms to convince him to drag me through yet another round of godawful dailies just so I can get some silly mount or title. When that fails, I threaten to withhold raid heals. Any port in a storm, right?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ahead of the Curve

Ahead of The Curve

For the first time since MoP was released, the Guardians of Fellowship have successfully completed a tier before the next was released. I am incredibly proud of my guild, both as a member of our raid team and as co-GM. A huge congratulations and thank you is in order to the Defenders of the Guardians Of Fellowship. Each and every one of you on that fight deserved the kill, and I am so proud to be one of you.

The GoF had a stellar showing during Cataclysm. We held the top spot on our server for a time, earning a bronze finish for the Dragon Soul tier and completing 8/8 Heroic before the release of Mists of Pandaria. We felt like we were in a strong position to really challenge for that top spot on the server for the first time since our founding back in the WOTLK days.

 Then things got hard.

Mists hasn't exactly been kind to our team. As with any expansion, there was an ebb and flow of members when it was released. A good bit of our raid team left the game, whether due to feeling they had completed their personal quest with the demise of Deathwing, out of game reasons, burn out, or simply because they didn't like the pandas. For whatever reason, they left, and we were faced with rebuilding a new raid team from our remaining roster and adding new raiders.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Forgotten Depths: A Restospective

Continuing my fond farewell to the current Raiding tier, let me reintroduce you to the bosses in the second act of the Throne of Thunder: The Forgotten Depths.  Three giant critters make up the second act: Tortos, Megaera, and Ji-Kun.  Slaying these bosses makes me feel like we're putting them out of their misery.

According to "Lore by Bells (TM)" says that Tortos just wants to dance.  Look at all of the Dragon Turtle adds - they come whirling out from behind him doing the turtle spin breakdance - and that's all Tortos wants to do.  His body has literally fused with the cave walls around it, immobilizing him and keeping him from being able to pull out his blue suede shoes and bust a move.  Not to get too far off topic, he was just a victim to Mogu magic floating down and making him one with the wall.  What kind of an existence must it be to sit day after day, unable to move or even scratch your back?  (I apologize if this sounds too much like your workplace, guys.)

Megaera was once a cloud serpent, free to roam the skies and feel the sunshine on her scales.  She was twisted by Mogu magic into a hideous hydra.  When I picture the cloud serpents, I can't help but think of my majestic mount that I raised from an adorable, playful hatchling to a graceful adult.  To think of the agony that would transform that to a creature full of hate and desire for vengeance is sobering.

Ji-Kun I feel a touch less pity for as she is in the Forgotten Depths of her own volition.  She entered the Depths to feast on the flesh thrown aside by the Mogu.  She reigns supreme in her chamber.  I've often wondered if she feasts on her own offspring, as she is the only living creature in there when we arrive. Granted her eggs are everywhere, but you'll notice there's not another bird flitting about anywhere in the Throne of Thunder.

Stories aside, here's how I feel about the second act of the Throne of Thunder.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What Is Worth Fighting For? Part 1 of 2

“The true question, for my kind, is 'what is worth fighting for'?”

Part I: As A Raid Team

Three times a week, for three hours at a shot, ten people from the GoF come together to take on internet dragons and monsters. Three times a week, for three hours at a shot, we hurl ourselves time and again at these dragons, sometimes completing the same fight dozens of times or sometimes wiping dozens of times on the same fight. Why do we do it? Why do we not just say “oh well, I'm going to just go pick stuff from my farm in the Valley of the Four Winds”? What comes out of those dragons and monsters that is worth sinking nine hours a week – thirty six hours or more a month – that we feel is worth the time spent, the frustration, and worth fighting for to stay together as a team?

Ask ten different people and you're likely to get ten different responses.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Last Stand of the Zandalari : A Restospective

As the sun begins to set on Tier 15, most people are getting excited about what's to come with 5.4.  A new raid, tweaks to our toolkit, and new game features have people all a-flutter - and for excellent reason!  It's  hard to not be excited to see changes that will positively impact our game play and give us new challenges to overcome.

Here's a fond farewell to the current progression tier and a Restospective look back at what we have conquered.  There are three categories that I'm putting fights into: Love It, Hate It, or Meh.  Without further ado, here's my Restospective on Last Stand of the Zandalari (Throne of Thunder Part 1).



Monday, June 24, 2013

Small Server Blues

Imagine the crackle and click of a record player as it plays a classic Blues vinyl. Pull up a rocking chair and a dewy glass of iced tea with an old friend and look around 'town' (your server). Does it look like it used to? Do you look around and see the shadows of people you used to enjoy playing with? Is it the lively party town it used to be or has it become, like mine, a ghost town?

Names of people I used to play with, see in trade chat, undercut on the auction house or just see dancing on the fountain in Stormwind just aren't there any more. Georgebailey, a trade troll of the highest order, doesn't even spam his "If the Lich King's mount is Invincible, why can I still see it?" any more. Vannawhite's seemingly endless supply of vanity pets has dried up and quietly faded away. Awesome raiders like Floe and Culi have their pictures on the back of the pearl milk cartons. Heck, even Promade has stopped raiding Stormwind and making our RP server life generally miserable by camping the AH or the flight masters.



I have to wonder. Is this a case of memories being better than the times actually were, or is my server really going the way of the dodo?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Turning a Bane into a Boon

LFR.

Love it or hate it, you know it. For some, it's a loot piƱata, where the worst part of it is the luck you have queuing with a group which may be filled with trolls, incompetents, elitists, or all of the above.  For others, it's the lone source of raiding and the only way they'll ever see end game content. Some also use it as an avenue for gearing an alt, perfecting rotations and trying out new roles. 

For me, I can't stand it. I'm not saying LFR is a bad thing, I just don't want to spend my somewhat limited gaming time in there. I may have even stated once or twice that it's the bane of my existence.  In my opinion, the content is less challenging than some heroic dungeons or scenarios. The jump between LFR and 10M normal is huge. Mechanics can be ignored in LFR, outgoing damage tickles, and OOMing is never an issue (so long as the others are pulling at least some of their weight). But, when I step back and think about it, there's far more you can get out of it than meets the eye. 


So how can you turn this bane into a boon?  Simple. Change your viewpoint and look at it with new eyes.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Rolling With the Punches

"In the face of great adversity, great heroism can shine through."  -Me

While burning through content, there's always the possibility that things can go sideways.  A thunderstorm knocks out the electric, the dog chews through your network cable, kids get sick - we've all been there.  If it hasn't happened to us personally, it has happened to our team. My team has the infamous Jasper Wipe of 2012, when at 3% on what would have been our first kill of Deathwing, our dog Jasper knocked the power cord out of our wireless router. You can imagine the uproar that ensued with the main tank and a healer disconnected there - and of course the ensuing wipe.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Playing Well With Others: Resto Shaman

Raiding is a team sport, and knowing your teammates' abilities goes a long way towards a successful night. Instead of griping about why your heals are pitiful compared to someone's or bragging about the meters until people put you on mute, try to understand that each healing class has different tool kits, different strengths, and different weaknesses. With this knowledge, try to mold your own healing so that it works in harmony with your teammates instead of blindly mashing buttons. It can be exhausting to research what each class does, and to put together a battle plan taking those into account on your next fight.

My Guild raids in the 10M format. We don't have the perfect team comp on every fight, but using what I know about different classes helps me flesh out how to best tackle the challenge in front of us. So without further ado, here's a quick and dirty break down of Shaman healing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Unnatural Progression


My guild has been working on Tier 14 so hard for so long – specifically Heart of Fear. We moved through Mogushan Palace at a pretty typical clip, without getting too terribly hung up on any one fight. We started the progression race late, since we as a team decided to take our time and enjoy leveling through the new content and experiencing the new lore. Once we started raid, we ran in to the usual rockiness at the beginning of a new expansion's raiding content. People switched mains, those who kept the same mains adjusted to new talents and spells, and adjusted to mana starvation. It was slow going at first, but we got a good head of steam and started rolling through well enough to keep us happy.

We cleared through Mogushan reasonably well and continued in to Heart of Fear. As I would expect, the second raid in the tier was harder than the first...however it was a much steeper increase in difficulty than I believe I encountered previously.

Now I've been raiding since Naxx in Wrath Of The Lich King, and have been on the front line of my guild's progression teams since Ulduar. I didn't experience raids as intended in either Vanilla or The Burning Crusade, so I can't use raids like the original Ahn'Qiraj or the Sunwell as a basis of comparison.

So. What was I saying? Oh right.

The sharp increase in difficulty between Mogushan and Heart was staggering. I'm uncertain changing up our normal progression strategy in T14 had an impact as well. We struggled in Heart of Fear. We bled for our first kill of Garalon. We bled for our first kill of Amber Shaper. We bled for our first kill of the Empress. It was so hard for us, in fact, that we didn't even finish Heart of Fear until last week. That's right, the week after T15 was released. Since Ulduar, we have always at least dabbled in the Heroic versions of the raids before starting the next tier. It was a real kick in the gut to have no “H” kills on GuildOx.

What boggles my mind even further is that in the same night that we downed the Empress for the first time, we waltzed in to the Terrace of Endless Springs and wiped the floor with the first three bosses. We did no in-depth stratigising for any of those fights. We wiped a total of four times on the first three bosses. Not four times each. Four total. How is it that we wiped somewhere in the range of one hundred times on Garalon before finally getting a kill – Garalon, not the final boss in Heart of Fear, but one of the middle ones – and then just glided through the first 75% of the next raid like it was no more than a heroic dungeon we hadn't stepped foot in.

I am by no means saying that the game has been oversimplified, or that Heart of Fear was overtuned. I'm neither an elitist nor a carebear. What I wonder about is how it is considered progression to move from a raid where the fights were so challenging that we sat and poured over logs, blogs, strategies, virtually anything we could get our hands on, to get a foot up and keep moving and once in the very next raid have that “Is that it?” moment.

It felt so unnatural to me. I anticipate moving from one raid to the next that the first boss will be easier than the final boss of the previous one, but from there I expect them to get harder. It felt like somewhere the designers sneezed when putting together the roadmap for T14 progression and accidentally put Heart before Terrace. Drag and drop error perhaps? I'm honestly baffled. I enjoy a good challenge and I don't beg for nerfs or reminisce about the good old days when fights were harder. I'm just not quite sure what the point of having Heart before Terrace was.

I can remember one other time that the road of progression felt as awkward as T14 did. Back in WOTLK, Ulduar was a solid challenge. We were working our tails off to get through Heroic Ulduar and enjoying every minute of it when they released Trial of the Champions. I felt then – and I still think – that TOC was filler, something that someone felt was necessary to fill the gap between Ulduar and Ice Crown Citadel. It didn't fit. It really wasn't all that challenging, especially considering fights like Mimiron. The only fight in TOC that proved any real challenge was the Faction Champions. Anub'Arak was appropriately challenging also, but overall the raid felt like a real dud, and didn't feel like it was a step up from Ulduar.

The biggest difference for T14 is that Terrace didn't feel like filler. It didn't feel like it was stuck in there unnecessarily. It didn't feel like an interlude between big chunks of lore to digest. It just felt out of place.

Did any of you feel the same way? How did you feel about the overall push through T14?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jin'Rohk the Impersonator

Built on an epic scale like Ulduar, the Throne of Thunder taunts us and draws us in. Wary, we approached, fearing the worst. Again like Ulduar, the first boss in the Throne of Thunder is nothing but a loot pinata.

This troll, perhaps from waking up grumpy over sleeping for too long, hurls around lightning like a Zeus wanna-be. Jin'Rohk is no Zeus, I assure you. (Elvis Zeus has LEFT THE BUILDING.)

The mechanics of this fight are pretty simple, as is their execution.

Focused Lightning / Lightning Fissures / Implosion
If everyone is doing their job right, this portion is a breeze to heal through. Focused Lightning spawns an orb that fixates on a random player and follows them around like a lost puppy until it hits them. When they player is hit, they take a fair amount of damage from it, as does anyone standing near them. Also, when the ball is being kited around, it is consistently doing damage to the entire raid. So long story short, GTFO when you have the orb chasing after you, don't get hit in the water (see next section for why...)
When the orb explodes, it creates a Lightning Fissure. Don't drag an orb through one of these. If someone DOES drag an orb through a Fissure, it triggers an Implosion. If this happens, be prepared to either use every possible and heal your branches off, or wipe, or both. It HURTS. It is possible to heal through one, if it doesn't occur right before a Lightning Storm. We had some glorious wipes from Implosions. GLORIOUS I tell you! (Don't let anyone say a wipe can't be glorious).

Conductive Water / Fluidity
Know it, love it, use it and abuse it. At set points during the fight, Jin'Rohk throws his target at a statue in one of the four corners of the room, triggering a pool of Conductive Water to form. Standing in the water gives everyone a delicious buff, Fluidity. It bumps people's damage done up, and (more importantly for us) increases their healing taken. Oh right. And it increases damage taken. If everyone is paying attention to what's going on, the “extra damage” is actually very easy to deal with, simply because the vast majority of that “extra damage” is avoidable. When people DO take the extra damage, it's much easier to heal them through it when they're standing in the water rather than outside of it. The damage going out during this portion of the fight is light to moderate, though fairly consistent. When the Lightning Storm is getting close, it's a good time to top people off so there are no accidental deaths at the very beginning of the storm.

Lightning Storm
From a healing perspective, the most difficult portion of the fight is the Lightning Storm. The easiest way to handle this is to stack up so that AOE healing can do its dirty work. As you'd expect, Tranquility, Wild Growth, Swiftmend/Efflorescence are all incredibly helpful during this fifteen seconds. I'll add that mushrooms could be helpful here, but to be honest my personal jury is still out on them. Top people off before the Lightning Storm, rotate CDs with the other healers, and make use of your Barkskin, Ironbark, potions, or Symbiosis (obviously dependent on its target) will make you feel less at risk of dying during this phase.

We wiped on the fight over and over again for an entire night....and then realized that we were seriously over-complicating it. The next evening, we got him in three tries. Take our mistakes and try to learn from them. Our two biggest mistakes were (essentially) over kiting the orbs and trying to stack in the dead center of the room during each Lightning Storm. How this hurt us (and what you can avoid!):

  1. Orbs: Those damn orbs and Lightning Fissures. First of all, we were kiting the orbs too far, increasing the overall damage done to the raid by their aura, which in turn was draining our healers' mana unnecessarily. Now the reason we were kiting the orbs too far was because we were trying to make absolutely certain that the Lightning Fissures would never touch the Conductive Water. In theory, this isn't such a bad idea – however, overall we determined that the DPS/HPS loss from running all over hell and back to drop the fissure in the absolute corners of the room was dragging the fight out way too long, and was causing us to wipe, especially when someone key would die trying to make their way back to the stack point for the Lightning Storm.
  2. Stacking: Yes, stacking in the center of the room during the fourth Lightning Storm is essential – you'll die if even the tip of your pinkie toe is touching the Conductive Water (our OT proved this point by going from full health to dead in the blink of an eye). However, during the first three Lightning Storms, it is so much easier to stand in one of the blocks not occupied with water. Moving to the stack point faster helped with AOE healing, as well as helped stop stragglers' deaths. It is much easier for a group to stack up in a quarter of a room as opposed to a very small center point.

As is becoming the norm, smart use of cooldowns, mana conservation and strategic use of self mitigation cooldowns continue to be important in this fight. Some days (ok most days) I really long for the days of a mana pool that increases with intellect. It saddens me that the days of reforging spirit to mastery or haste are nothing more than a memory. But I'm adapting.

Until next time, long days, pleasant nights & happy Raiding.

Guild First Kill Shot - Jin'Rokh

Here's my guild shot of our first kill of Jin'rokh.  So proud of my little guild for downing Jin'rokh during the first week Throne of Thunder was open.  Congratulations, Guardians of Fellowship!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Lessons Learned


The boss is dead, the loot is passed out, and doesn't that feel sweet?  Until, scant minutes later, you're faced with the next boss.  When a boss dies, of course you should try to hold on to the muscle memory you developed, one wipe at a time, as you worked on him.  But as you face down the next boss, you should try to also keep in mind the lessons you learned on the previous boss.  While each boss does have its unique ability set and strategy for defeat, you can take bits and pieces from one to another.

The Life You Save May Be Your Own

It seems Tier 14 (Heart of Fear especially)has really been beating home the idea that, as players, we need to keep ourselves alive with whatever tricks we have and not be so dependent on our healers to do so.  Many of the fights in this raid  have really pressed that point time and time again. The Blade Lord with his oh so wonderful Tornado Alley, Garalon, with his massive damage during Crush alternating with Pheromones, Mal'Jarak with the Kor'Thik strike, and of course Ambershaper with the Parasitic Growth. All are instances where you may have to save your own life.  As result, our team has remembered that every class has at least one or two survival buttons they can use.  Barkskin, Deterrence, Ice Block, Dispersion, Die By the Sword, and so many more. Sitting back and reflecting, it makes me wonder how far we've come from mindless spamming heals like there was no tomorrow in Wrath to being capped at mana and having to heal “smart”.

The Life You Save May Kill Your Team

Take a look at some past bosses – regardless of tier or expansion even – and you can find things you've learned from them apply to current challenges. A good example of this is Yor'sahj from Dragon Soul.  In Yor'sahj, we had to throttle back on our heals, even when we didn't want to.  Especially when we didn't want to.  Too many heals on a player and BOOM.  You haven't actually helped them, you've killed them.  Literally. This forced many healers to have to change the way they did things. I see this lesson echoing with similar affect on the Amber Shaper.  The damage done by Parasitic Growth during the Amber Shaper fight increases proportionally to the amount of healing taken by the person who has it.  Which means, in this fight, healing can be even more lethal to someone than the initial DOT damage that is ticking.

Another similarity you can draw on from the past to apply to current content is Valithria Dreamwalker in ICC.   For this fight (which is a personal favorite of mine), the fight was won by successfully healing Valithria.  The DPS were playing a deadly version of keep-away with adds throughout the fight, who would injure Valithria and hinder your ability to complete it.  There is an echo of this type of mechanic on Tsulong.  During the light phase of Tsulong, again the healers try desperately to heal the boss while the DPS play keep-away with adds.  Recalling the delicate balance of pouring as much healing into the boss as possible while keeping tanks and DPS alive very much brings to mind the struggle we initially had with Valithria.

Throughout the history of raiding in Azeroth, how many fights have you seen?  How many lessons have you learned that you have since forgotten?  How many mechanics are you currently facing that echo of the past?  When you hear that echo, when you feel like there's dejavu in play, think back.  Think back to the first time you ran in to it.  And try to recall how you dealt with it.  It's so much easier to learn something that is similar to something you already know.  Then it's just an adjustment rather than something as overwhelming as a “completely new” mechanic.

We learn our classes and their abilities, as well as how to keep ourselves alive and deal with “new” mechanics as we work our way through Azeroth.  Remember when you're struggling with a fight that you may have encountered a similar mechanic before.  Also, always always recall that much more is taken away from a fight that you've wiped on over and over again than from a cake walk.  Take heart from the difficulties.  They are what help you to develop as a raider.

What mechanics or fights have you encountered in the current tier that remind you of things you've conquered in the past?  Do you feel that you had an easier time dealing with them this time around than the first time?  Your feedback is always appreciated!

Until next time, long days, pleasant nights & happy Raiding.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thrust Upon Me


"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them"  - William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

I was very recently given the honor of being appointed by our Heals Lead to step in to her role for our raid team.  She was the bomb-diggity with a side of iggity when it comes to heals lead.  I have no clue how in the name of the Monkey King I'll actually fill her shoes.  I'm doing my very best not to panic at the thought.

There are so many things that made her such a badass heals lead that I hope to emulate.  She would research every single fight for hours and hours and post in our guild forums healing strategies and tips before we even stepped foot in the fight.  After, she'd always follow up with adjustments to fit our team.  She'd always be supportive and encouraging of us to really flex our healing muscles on any fight.  She set such an atmosphere of teamwork and mutual respect that it didn't matter if you failed miserably in a fight – we were all in it together.  There was never any infighting in the heals team over gear, raid spot, or even over oreos or chips ahoy being better.  She has a soothing presence, is a quiet, gentle, but strong leader.  She also seems to know each healing class inside and out.

The research is easy.  Boiling it down to essentials that all the healers need to know about will be a bit tougher, but it's possible.  For me, the biggest hurdle I'm fearing to start is that intimate knowledge of the other healing classes, as well as my own.  I'm very comfortable healing with any class beside me, true, but I worry about advising the raid lead on which healers to bring in when, how to best use the tools in our toolbox to their greatest advantage.

I have always and will always believe that the teamwork of the healers is the most important aspect of healing.  Yes, topping the charts is something I always strive to do, but it's not the be-all and end-all of healing.  If you're busting the roof off the charts but the raid is dying anyway, you're doing it wrong.  If you're tops and have zero mana two minutes in, you're doing it wrong.  If you're not properly utilizing all your skills and those of the rest of your team, you're doing it wrong.

No one person wins a fight.

Well, unless it's one man standing at the end.  Which is a rush, but is completely besides the point.

I'm taking a crash course on the other healing classes....so why not share it with the rest of our community?  Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be doing a series of posts about how to play well with others.  I plan to detail the strengths of each healing class and how we as Druids can work in tandem with them to help our raid teams be successful, no matter which boss we fight.

For now, panic is being held firmly in check, and I wonder if I will grow to the greatness that my heals lead set the example for.

**GULP**

Until next time, long days, pleasant nights & happy Raiding.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Initial Thoughts on Garalon

The day has come and I find myself again in the ranks of active raiders in the GoF.  I'm now 40+ pulls in to the fight against Garalon.  No, we can't dance on his corpse quite yet.  We are getting there, one pull at a time.

Garalon brings out the best in Resto druids...and unfortunately shines a very bright light on our severe weakness.

We stand out because of the consistent, raid-wide damage from the Pheromone debuff.  This debuff is carried by one raider and passed from one to the next as it stacks, increasing the damage dealt to the entire raid.  The damage from the debuff pulses every two seconds, the base amount of damage increasing on each pulse.  I find myself using Wild Growth on CD and throwing out Rejuvenations and Swiftmends as needed (read: nearly spamming) to keep people's health from dropping dangerously low.  Our ability to have HoTs ticking on several raid members simultaneously, paired with consistent damage ticking away at everyone's life bars, really makes us sparkle.

But.

There's always a but, isn't there?

We are at a disadvantage when there is MASSIVE damage.  The problem here is another ability of Garalon's, Crush.  I think Garalon is in middle school, since he Crushes every 30-40 seconds.  Crush is triggered by the Pheromone debuff passing from one person to the next.  It does massive, raid-wide damage.  And this, my leafy friends, is where we struggle.  Yes, we have Tranquility. Tranquility is a beast when we need to really grab that healing 'oh-shit handle'.  Tree of Life is ours too.  Tree of Life gives us a good boost to quickly heal people up.  Both of these are key CDs that I would argue MUST be used on this boss.  I personally use Nature's Vigil on this fight as well – anything I can do to keep my raid up I'm game for.  Each of these spells do dull the pain of the Crush, but it makes it dreadfully obvious that I just don't have those nuclear bomb style heals.  They take time to work AND they each have a three minute CD.  I find myself struggling just to keep people alive.

It almost goes without mentioning that this fight is a major test of mana conservation and management.  I use every resource at my disposal to keep that blue bar from draining while keeping those green bars full.  With so much consistent raid damage and frequent massive spikes, without careful attention to mana management and use of CDs you WILL OOM.  Quickly.  And you'll want to cry.

Where I find my own performance in need of improvement is my proactive use of ALL my healing CDs and remembering to count the bloody Crushes.  I also need to concentrate more carefully on keeping my Lifeblooms up on -somebody-.  I share this with you so you can also consider areas where you can also step up your game.

I'll keep you posted as we continue through the fight, and do my best to give you a concise and useful breakdown of what works and what doesn't when I cross that bridge.

Until then, long days, pleasant nights & happy Raiding.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Back in the Saddle


We've all had the inevitable WoWcation or three, regardless of the cause. For Wrath from Ulduar through the end of Cata, I was on the front line of my raiding team, sheltering tanks and deeps alike from death when I could, and Rebirthing them when I couldn't. I was deeply involved with working with the team to push ourselves to the limit.

...And then life happened.

So here I am, feeling like I'm starting back at square one. New gear to min/max, new stat weights to learn, revamped skills and talents to wade through. None of this bothers me, really. What does bother me about climbing back in the saddle is the feeling that my team is carrying me.  I pride myself on being one of the best damn healers on my server.

Being the weak link on the team doesn't sit we'll with me. However, it does give me the opportunity to remember what it's like to be the new kid on the block. Instead of mourning the loss of my epicosity, I'm embracing the learning process. In doing so, I hope to help old and new Druids grow in their raiding knowledge and skills.

Please join me on the journey.